“It’s mourning in America”

May 15, 2020

Republican campaign consultants and others who want to save the Republican Party, and America, from Donald Trump, put a fine twist on the old Ronald Reagan campaign ad from 1984, “It’s Morning in America.”

“Mourning in America” came out of the The Lincoln Project, a group of Republicans who find Donald Trump to be unacceptable as a president, including Rick Wilson, the author of Everything Trump Touches Dies.

At their YouTube site, the project say:

Donald Trump’s failed presidency has left the nation weaker, sicker, and teetering on the verge of a new Great Depression.

News accounts say this video’s one actual broadcast, in Washington, D.C., was seen by Trump, who erupted in a fountain of angry Tweets indicating that the ad hit where its makers and funders wanted it to hit.

In just a few months, over 71,000 American lives have been lost to this deadly disease, a loss that stands in glaring contrast to the president’s assertion, just a few weeks ago, that it would just “disappear . . . like a miracle.”

Trump didn’t create this virus. But his failure to prepare the nation for the pandemic has directly contributed to the growing number of COVID-19 deaths as well as economic devastation.

As of Wednesday, more than 30 million Americans have lost their jobs. Millions more will likely do so in the weeks ahead. The Paycheck Protection Program, intended to save small businesses across the country, instead distributed much of its funds to large corporations, leaving thousands of small businesses with little hope of survival.

A still from the Lincoln Project’s “Mourning In America” ad.Lesley Becker/”Mourning in America, via Boston Globe

May 7: Anniversary of the 27th Amendment, and tribute to James Madison’s three centuries of legislative accomplishment

May 7, 2020

September 25, 1789, Congress had approved and enrolled the proposals, and sent twelve proposed amendments to the Constitution to the states for ratification.  Ten of the twelve amendments were approved, rather quickly, and by 1791 the were attached to the Constitution.  These ten we now call the Bill of Rights.

James Madison before he was president

James Madison proposed the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution, and the 27th Amendment; the 203 years it took to ratify the 27th Amendment is the longest legislative process in the history of the U.S., and probably the world.

The two proposals that failed to earn the required approval of three-fourths of the 13 states fell into a special limbo for Constitutional amendments that became clear only in the late 1970s when Congress discussed how long to wait for states to approve the Equal Rights Amendment (this is a much-simplified explanation, I know).  Congress put deadlines on the ratification process in the late 20th century, but the first twelve proposals had no deadlines, nor did any other proposal before the Equal Rights Amendment proposal.  In the 1980s, Congress passed a law that said any amendments floating around, unapproved, would be considered dead after a date certain.  There were six amendments in that category.

Before that date certain passed, more states took a look at one of James Madison’s 1789 proposals.  They liked it, and they ratified it — 34 states total.

That amendment became the 27th Amendment to the Constitution, on May 7, 1992, 203 years after it was proposed:

No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.

This is the longest legislative procedure in U.S. history, perhaps the longest ever — it lasted much longer than many nations.  By that ratification in 1992, James Madison became the person who proposed both the first, and last amendments to the Constitution.

Madison’s reaching out from the grave 156 years after his death — he died on June 28, 1836 — is one of the greatest legislative coups in history, too.

This is an encore post.
Yes, this is an encore post. Defeating ignorance takes patience and perseverance.

Dallas comes together, staying apart

April 26, 2020

What happens when Dallas goes home, instead of going out?
Produced by The Well Creative Productions
Drone Videography – Cash Sirois
Edited By – Jason Seely

What did Dallas look like the night of Friday, March 20, 2020? It was the first night of the “shelter in place” protocols in Dallas to try to stop the COVID-19 virus.

I’m a sucker for interesting drone photography. I love a video done to a good piece of music, and even better when it seems the music and the moving pictures take each other in their arms and dance through three or four minutes, putting a smile on our faces.

TheWellDelivers.com (@TheWellDelivers) put this together, with drone photography by Cash Sirois, and music by a band I don’t know, The Bastards of Soul.

And it’s close to perfection.

KERA-TV, our local public station, uses the film in the interstices between the end of a program that doesn’t quite fill its slot, and the next program’s start. I looked for it under KERA’s name, but couldn’t find it. KERA has a couple of other films I really like, including “The Million Dollar Monarch,” and “The Chip that Jack Built,” a joyful honorific to the Jack Kilby who invented the integrated circuit and won a Nobel for it.

But it’s unfindable from KERA’s site, for me. I caught the credits on one of those showings, and found it by looking for Cash Sirois.

(I hope Raul Malo comes back soon, on a night I can see him.)

Last shot from the film by The Well Creative Productions.

A few other television stations have similar films about their cities. These could be a good geography exercise, or maybe part of a project if geography teachers still assign students to report on one state or city.

More likely, it’s just an enjoyable way to see some of the sights, and to get an idea of what it means to record history, to capture history in the making.

Have you seen other films we ought to know about?

Wash your hands. Cover your sneezes and coughs.

More:

  • The Bastards of Soul are a Dallas-origin band that’s been around about four years, with people who have been around a lot longer than that; read about them in the Dallas Observer
  • D Magazine story on the video, why and how
  • See below, another drone video of Dallas, released the same date the video above was shot; different views, different tone (shot earlier, you can tell by the colors of the buildings)
Nice drone shots of Dallas before the shutdown, from TappChannel4.

Days of Yore: Scouting patent for a semaphore dummy

April 8, 2020

Some recent discussion about the least-earned Scout merit badge in history. In its three years of existence (and odd afterlife), only ten Boy Scouts earned the badge. It was discontinued in 1915.

One reason? A requirement for the badge was to file for and get a patent from the U.S. Patent Office. Much easier to do in 1911-1914 than today, but still a hurdle probably too high to require from Scouts.

Ten Scouts did it, though — one of the patents was displayed in the blog for Scouting Magazine. So I searched patents to see if I could find some of the other ten.

Not yet. But I did find this patent for a dandy semaphore signaling device (back in the day, Scouts had to learn either semaphore or Morse code). On October 29, 1929, H. C. Meyer got a patent on a device that looks like a Boy Scout with two semaphore flags — with mechanisms to position the flags for semaphore signaling.

Why a dummy instead of a Scout? Not sure. All I found was the drawing. No hint on whether the device was ever built.

U.S. Patent 1,729,890, to H. C. Meyer, for a “Boy Scout Signalling Device” using semaphores. Granted October 1, 1929.

Do you know semaphore? Morse code?

See the drawing and the entire description of the patent at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website. Four pages.


If we’re sheltered from the virus, is April still National Poetry Month?

March 31, 2020

Yes.

National poetry Month may be even more important when we’re avoiding other social interactions, poetry being a very intimate interaction that spans distances and time.

Plans for National Poetry Month 2020 were made months ago; the only difference will be cancellations of actual physical gatherings.

But, literature and history teachers, is there a topic better adapted for virtual learning than poetry?

Poster of National Poetry Month 2020, from the Academy of American Poets. It was designed by “tenth grader Samantha Aikman from Mount Mansfield Union High School in Richmond, Vermont, winner of the 2020 National Poetry Month Poster Contest for Students. Aikman’s artwork was selected by former U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera and award-winning cartoonist Alison Bechdel from among ten outstanding finalists and 180 student submissions.”

The Academy of American Poets described it:

National Poetry Month was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in April 1996. Over the years, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture.

Join the celebration this April by listing your virtual readings and events, signing up for and displaying the official National Poetry Month poster, participating in Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 30, 2020 recommending the Dear Poet project to a young person, signing up to read a Poem-a-Day, and checking out 30 more ways to celebrate.

We hope National Poetry Month’s events and activities will inspire you to keep celebrating poetry all year long!

April’s a good month for poetry. I like using Longfellow’s “Paul Revere’s Ride” on April 18th or 19th in 10th and 11th grade history classes — sadly, most Texas students appear unfamiliar with the poem, which can help them on several key questions on the state test. It can be followed up with Emerson’s “Concord Hymn,” which contains a phrase they are required to know — but again, in a poem they are not taught otherwise.

And there are, or would be in a normal year, pending ceremonies of various types that demand poetry. Graduations, farewells, awards ceremonies, and more that cry out for just a few verses of poetry to put frosting on the cake, or gravy on the potatoes depending on which metaphor floats your particular watercraft.

Happy to see so much material out there for National Poetry Month. Where will you start?


Freud's friend Einstein, by Schmutzer

March 19, 2020

Einstein in 1921, by Ferdinand Schmutzer
Albert Einstein in 1921, by Ferdinand Schmutzer; original in the Freud Museum; image here public domain from Wikipedia.

Science historian Paul Halpern Tweeted this photo recently, saying:

Albert Einstein and psychologist Sigmund Freud greatly admired each other. Here is a portrait of Einstein, painted by Ferdinand Schmutzer, that was part of Freud’s personal collection. It is now housed in the Freud Museum, Vienna.

https://twitter.com/phalpern/status/1240371613150973954

It’s an image of Einstein I don’t recall seeing before. Einstein was not camera shy, but there are only a handful of photos of him that make the rounds regularly. I like to find other images that are less well-known, and which may offer some graphic insight into neglected facets of the man.

I did not realize that Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein regarded each other as friends, so. An interesting commentary on the times they lived and worked, I suppose. How much of each other’s work did they study, or understand?

Ferdinand Schmutzer was an Austrian professor (where?), photographer and painter, who published this picture of Einstein in 1921, the year Einstein won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the photoelectric effect. Perhaps ironically, Einstein did not win for his work on relativity, or other work more famous that photoelectric effect.

Einstein didn’t sit for this picture. Schmutzer worked from a photograph he took, or perhaps a series of photos. One photo negative was discovered in Austria in 2001. It provides an interesting comparison to the finished portrait.

Albert Einstein during a 1921 lecture in Vienna, photographed by Ferdinand Schmutzer; photo discovered in 2001. Public domain.

In his younger days, far from being a disheveled-appearing, perhaps-absent-minded professor, Einstein cut a handsome figure. Educators may note with some jealousy he had good skills on the chalkboard, too.

It looks like Sch

Einstein’s birthday was March 14. That’s Pi Day (3.14), if you’re looking for coincidences that strike a humor chord among scientists and science aficionados.


Maybe the kids are alright

February 26, 2020

Lotta hope found in this photo of two young women, out to make the world a better place.

Maybe the kids are alright, after all.

@GretaThunberg and @Malala
@GretaThunberg and @Malala met, probably in London. February 2020.

Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai. Young activists for ending carbon pollution (Greta) and educating women (Malala).

Another photo of Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai.
Another photo of Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai.

More:


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